One of the beautiful things about music is that, whether you're practicing it or just appreciating it, it almost necessitates a deep sensitivity and sense of connection to your environment and fellow human beings.
This quality gives music the tendency to attract people who feel compelled to lend a hand to those in need around the world.
The humanitarian spirit of this art form has come to life in a very real way through the Music Is Love Exchange, a collective of artists, musicians, and music lovers committed to working in every way they can to meet the needs of underprivileged communities, especially children.
The group was started by Jenny and Dustin Reynolds and was originally conceived as an offshoot of the relief effort in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. Its professed mission is to empower musicians to give back to their own communities and to those they visit on the road through practical community development work.
MILE achieves this mission through its two major facets: it first gives support to musicians on the road as they make music for ailing or under-served children, as well as do grass-roots outreach and consciousness raising on the cause and works of the project.
Next, the group embarks on what it calls The EXTRA MILE, in which it periodically sends relief missions to Guatemala.
These excursions are arranged for a week at a time, and involve learning about Mayan and Guatemalan culture while engaging in a variety of projects designed to "meet the ever-changing needs of the indigenous people."
"This may include working at clearing and setting up homes to cleaning solar panels and doing inventory at the local hospital to entertaining the kids at school in the center of town," said Matt Duke, a participating musician, in a recent interview with Mod City Magazine. "And that’s all before settling down lakeside to jam through the night and really get to know the people in your group – it’s one part retreat, one part relief operation, one part musical extravaganza!"
The group's upcoming trip is scheduled for December 5 through 13, 2015. Anyone is able to apply to join, whether they be musicians, artists, humanitarian workers, or just concerned people who want to have a singular experience while making a positive contribution to the world.
"It’s amazing what people have to offer in terms in their abilities and work ethic so anyone is welcome," Duke notes. "And even if said person just wanted to get away for a little while and is a little less interested in getting their hands dirty, the money paid to come aboard goes towards a great cause. It’s a win-win."
By Bessam Idani
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